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Ellwood Pier Removal

There has been a lot of media about the removal of the old oil piers at Ellwood lately. And unfortunately, it seems this has caused a lot of confusion. Headlines like, “Two oil piers set to be removed at Haskell’s Beach” and “Haskell’s Beach May Be Free of Oil Piers […]

Dos Pueblos Chumash

Dos Pueblos is Spanish for two villages, but to locals, that’s the name of our high school. And the name of a ranch on the outskirts of town. But why would this ranch and our high school be named “Two Villages”? Good question…. Dos Pueblos is in fact the oldest […]

Bird Island

Just off the coast from Sandpiper golf course, these four structures sit quietly. Several times a day people look at them and ask each other, what are those? And usually the answer is a random guess. Here’s the story. In the early 1930s, Ellwood was a booming oil field. It […]

Tecolote Canyon

At the far west end of Goleta the Tecolote Canyon winds down from the uppermost reaches of the Santa Ynez mountains. The canyon descends rapidly into a pastoral valley and down to a beach that that has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. At the mouth of the […]

How Turnpike Got Its Name

We all know and use Turnpike Road, but have you thought about the name? If you Google turnpike it says “an expressway, especially one on which a toll is charged“. Well our Turnpike isn’t really an expressway, and there’s no charge…so…why that name? Blame it on the stagecoach! Back in […]

Goleta’s P.O.W Camp

If you’re driving on the 101, just south of El Capitan, look towards the ocean and you may see this old wooden structure. Believe it or not, it is the remains of a water tower from a prisoner of war camp! Most folks have no idea, but Goleta had Nazi […]

Goleta School Kids 1925

  Goleta native and history aficionado, Judy Ensign, recently let me borrow this great photo of Goleta school kids from 1925. They are standing in front of the Goleta School, not to be confused with the Goleta Union School on Hollister Ave. This beautiful school was built in 1911 and located at […]

Who was El Capitan?

Everybody loves El Capitan State Beach, a jewel on the Gaviota Coast. But why is it called the Captain? Who exactly was the Captain? El Capitan was Don Jose Francisco Ortega. He was the first person of European descent to set foot on Goleta soil and he played a big role […]

Architectural Influence

   The historic Ellwood gas station was meant to make a statement. In the late 1920’s the Barnsdall Rio Grande oil company wanted to build a filling station that was second to none. They interviewed many of the most prestigious architectural firms and eventually settled on Morgan, Walls and Clement out […]

Saving the Barnsdall Gas Station

“The only thing more destructive to historical landmarks than a bulldozer is procrastination on the part of preservationists.” Walker A. Tompkins, historian It’s still there. Right where it’s been since 1929, when oil rich executives decided to build a showpiece filling station to celebrate the wild success of their Ellwood […]

Waiting for Salvation

When this building was constructed in 1929, surely no one imagined it would still be around in 2016. And who would have imagined that such a tiny little structure could become such a powerful pawn in a political game? Unfortunately, that appears to be just what is happening. On December 20, […]

Stephen Rutherford

  Ever wonder who this street in Old Town Goleta is named after? We did. And we found out about one of Goleta’s most motivated immigrants. Stephen Rutherford was a sharp real estate investor and he played a major role in the development of Goleta, but very little was written […]

The Birth of Haskells Pier

Haskells pier. A definitive marker for the end of the developed coastline and the beginning of the Gaviota Coast. If you grew up in Goleta, this pier has been in the background of lots of beach day photos…And in the foreground of many beautiful sunset shots. But it’s more than just […]

The Good Doctor Winchester

Winchester Canyon. Quintessential Goleta. At the far west end of Goleta, this is one of the last places that looks like the Goleta of old. Somehow untouched by the all powerful developers, agriculture is still the order of the day and wildlife abounds. So how did this beautiful canyon get the […]

Arroyo Quemada

Have you ever heard of the Baron Ranch hiking trail? Most folks haven’t, but it’s a fine public trail a couple miles west of Refugio State Beach and it’s worth exploring. Pronounced Bear-own Ranch, the beginning of the trail runs through a 1,000 acre ranch owned and managed by Santa Barbara County.  […]

The Farren Brothers

At the far west end of Goleta there’s a road that for years only locals knew about. It doesn’t really go anywhere because it ends at a locked gate, but the view is the attraction. Looking back down at the rolling empty hillsides gives you a glimpse into the past of Goleta, […]

Victory at Ellwood? Not Quite….

On June 11th, 2015, officials from the City of Goleta and Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts gathered to announce that the property and structure would be donated to the city. Rumors of the donation had been circulating for a while and one press conference was cancelled, but this time it happened, or so […]